Francesca Tolot is one of the most influential makeup artists of our time. Beyoncé names Tolot the “most extraordinary makeup artist of our time.”
Francesca Tolot was born in Venice, Italy. Growing up, she fell in love with a different art form: painting. After she married Albert Tolot, a fashion and fine art photographer, she moved to Milano. In Milano, she met Diego Dalla Palma, a professional and well-known Italian makeup artist. During this time, Palma was opening up his own school for makeup. Tolot started taking Palma’s classes. After seeing Tolot’s potential and artistry, Palma allowed Tolot to take over one of his bookings. Soon after, Tolot worked with Herb Ritts, an American fashion photographer, on Italian Vogue, which is when she decided that she wanted makeup to be her profession.
“The famous Diego Dalla Palma was my teacher – the only reason I took his class was because I used to wear a lot of make-up and so I thought it would be fun to learn new techniques,” said Tolot. “Diego foresaw my potential and suggested I take over a booking that he wasn’t available for – a make-up advertising campaign. I hated the experience and did not want to pursue the profession! Luckily Diego insisted, and suggested I try one more time. The following week I found myself on an Italian Vogue shoot and, needless to say, that day I discovered my passion.”
In 1983, Tolot and her family moved to Los Angeles for her to pursue a career as a makeup artist. Her first big job in Los Angeles was working with Madonna for her “Live To Tell” music video in 1986. In 1986, she also worked on Janet Jackson for album Control. In 1986, Tolot also worked with Elizabeth Taylor on the cover of Helmut Newton’s book, Portraits. Following that job, Tolot and Taylor became friends and worked together for over two decades until the unfortunate passing of Taylor in 2011.
Madonna, “Live To Tell”
Janet Jackson, Control
“While working with Helmut, I landed a photo shoot with the ultimate movie star, Elizabeth Taylor. Although I barely spoke English there was an immediate connection, and we worked together for over two decades, until she passed away. She was an incredibly beautiful, loving, loyal, and generous friend.”
Tolot’s work was photographed by Ritts for the British Vogue in 1989. Then, Tolot worked on Kate Moss for a Voguephotoshoot with Ritts in 1994.
In 2003, Tolot worked with Beyoncé for “Crazy In Love”, which was Beyoncé’s first music video. Since then, Tolot and Beyoncé have worked closely for photoshoots, movies, music videos, and red carpet looks. Tolot worked with Beyoncé in Dream Girls in 2006.
“The day I met Beyoncé was another immediate connection. Her extraordinary inside-out beauty, her unbelievable talent and her being open-minded to all possibilities sparks in me the joy of creativity and the desire to share my knowledge and experience,” said Tolot.
Tolot has worked with Beyoncé for her tours. Tolot even worked with Beyoncé for her wedding to Jay-Z in 2008. In 2011, Tolot worked with Beyoncé on her album cover for 4. In 2013, she worked with Beyoncé for the cover of British Vogue.In 2013, Tolot also worked with Beyoncé for her H&M swimwear campaign and her music video for her song “Haunted”.
Credit: Francesca Tolot
In 2014, Tolot released her book, One Woman 100 Faces, which features a foreword written by Beyoncé. Every single photograph was captured by her husband. The layout of the book designed by her son, Cristiano Tolot.
Credit: Najla Kaddour
Tolot has gone on to work with Rihanna, Christina Aguilera, Shakira, Cindy Crawford, Cher, Sofia Vergara, Lucy Liu, Carrie Underwood, Charlize Theron, Pink, Faith Hill, and many more! Her work has been published on the covers of Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, GQ, Cosmopolitan, and Vogue. She has gone on to work on movie sets, such as Mama Mia, Atomic Blonde, etc. Tolot has worked on campaigns for Dior, CoverGirl, Smashbox Cosmetics, and more!
Beyoncé wrote, “Francesca Tolot is the most extraordinary makeup artist of our time. I have the ultimate respect for her artistry. She approaches her work with expertly trained hands and critically honest eyes. She managers to make a woman look sophisticated, elegant, modern and feminine. Whether she is using neon colors, feathers, period makeup or natural makeup, she is the only artist that I trust will bring out a beauty in me I didn’t even know existed. She seeks and finds beauty in all things and the face is her perfect canvas.”
Is there a makeup artist that inspires you? Leave your thoughts and suggestions for the next MUA Spotlight in the comment section below.